Welcome, e-commerce empresses, to this episode of Woman Powering e-Commerce. Join me every Tuesday and Thursday as I take you behind the scenes of my journey as a female e-commerce entrepreneur. Together, we'll explore the highs, the lows, inspiring you to take action and achieve your own business goals. Let's get started.
I want to talk about work-life balance, more specifically guilt and setting boundaries. That's definitely a subject that I love, because I work so hard on it. I want to share some of my story about overcoming guilt as a business owner. I also like to call it the guilt trap. Let's dive in. I don't know about you, but I felt guilty for a very long time for not wanting, for example, in business, to work evenings and weekends. That's just one out of several things, but let me tell you why by giving you a few examples. One of the first reason is how I felt that society in general expects you to do certain things a certain way. We can call those societal expectations. I feel like culturally speaking, if we're going to succeed in business, it goes hand in hand with working your butt off, working 70 to 80 hours a week, maybe, at least, especially at the beginning, which can be normal.
When you try to start something new, yes, you'll have a lot of hours to put in, but will you have to do that for several years and years? I believe not, but I felt had to. When I told someone, "I don't work weekends, I don't work evenings, and I even take some time off during the week," sometimes I feel the pressure, maybe it's in my head, but still, that's what I felt. Then, I discovered this four hour week movement, I'll call it, and created by Tim Ferriss, which I loved. I find that having someone talk about this, if you want to not work as much just to enjoy life, and it's not about not working. I love working. I love what I do. I want to succeed, but I feel that if you want to be happy and healthy, mentally, emotionally, physically, you need to have that work-life balance.
That's how I view it. Maybe not everyone will agree with this, but I feel that even if you own a business, you need to make some time for yourself. You need to make some time for your family and for all the those other important things in your life. No, I don't believe in the 70, 80 hours of work a week, even if I own a business. That four hour week was the first time I was introduced to the concept of not necessarily having to work so much. It put a weight off my shoulders. I was like, "Oh, finally someone understands me and so many more people than I thought." It made it more reasonable in my head and much more accessible.
More than ever, I feel that more people are realizing that success is not proportional to the numbers of hours that you put in your business. When you realize that, it's awesome. It's awesome. Yes, you'll have a lot of business owners that put in a lot of hours and yes, they're very successful, but now what I feel like I'm seeing more and more is you have a lot of successful business owners, but that are not necessarily putting so many hours to make it successful. Why? Well, they learned to leverage properly? They learned to delegate. They found a system that was able to free them some time up for more important things.
That's what I believe in and that's definitely what I want to always do. I started to feel okay with the idea of growing my business, all the while having a life outside of my work, but that little guilt in my head, oh, am I working enough? It was still there. Another thing is that once you do let go and accept the fact that you can let the business run without you being there 24/7, that was one thing. Once I realized that, found other people who were doing it, that's exactly how I thought, it felt very reassuring. I started doing it and loved it and felt less and less guilty.
Now, I'd say I'm like 99% okay with it. Then, you realize something else comes up. Once you learn to let go and you put people in place to do the work for the couple of hours during the day, sometimes, even, you're not going to be there. I'm not talking only not doing weekends or evenings, but during the day. If once in the month you want to, I don't know, go golf, I don't even golf, but for an hour or two, maybe two, and you put people into place to do that, your business is not going to burn. You can leave and come back and it should be okay.
What I realized is that I had this FOMO, fear of missing out thing, or the pressure to constantly be available creeped up on me. I realized I was used to always being available. My team would ask me questions anytime, anywhere. I educated them to me responding instantly. Unconsciously, I think that I felt the need to be needed, irreplaceable. I think that nourished something inside me, but once I understood that it probably nourished something not very healthy, well, I realized that I had to make a change. Also, it was unhealthy to feel guilty for not answering just for one hour or 20 minutes, having to an feel the need to answer instantly just because I had educated my staff to be used to that. It was not sustainable, long term. That wasn't part of the work life balance I wanted.
When I'm at work, I'm there 100%. I love what I do, but if I'm going to take one hour off to do whatever I need to do, then I want to do it without feeling guilty. I needed to change that, and that's when I learned to set boundaries with myself. I needed to discipline myself to do it. Let's say I wanted to implement the fact that... Okay, look, if I'm going to leave for an hour, for example, to go run an errand or do something really important that's not work related, even if it's during the week or let's say even a doctor's appointment, dentist appointment. What can I do to set that boundary that it's okay for me not to answer my Slack messages or emails or anything that comes in, WhatsApp, name it. What could I do?
Well, I needed to set myself boundaries. First of all, I needed to take a decision to not do that and teach the other people on my team to respect that. First things first, I needed to be more disciplined. Two, I needed to teach my team that I'm not going to answer instantly anymore. What helped me is actually tell the team when I'll be in or out, for example, developing a habit of me not responding instantly. I didn't necessarily tell them, "Okay, look, from now on, I'm not going to respond instantly." Maybe I already said that. That's very possible, but I didn't say that very often. What I did is just eventually with time, I got a message and I just didn't answer right away. I just let some time go before I answered back. Then, I spaced out those times and that's it. It worked. People did not expect anymore for me to respond instantly. That was one of the things.
It doesn't mean that I don't take care of everyone on my team. It doesn't mean I don't reply. I just set times in my day when I decide to reply to those messages. If there's something urgent, there's always a way to let me know. You can call me, but usually, 99% of the times, the requests are not urgent. One last thing that I implemented that really helped is having dedicated meetings weekly with my team leaders. This creates a time and space to discuss non-urgent issues. That really, really helped a lot. Usually, I have with every team leader a meeting every week for one hour, 30 minutes, depending, and we can discuss any issues there so they know they have a time and place to do it. That way, they back off from sending me a lot of messages, waiting for answers all the time.
I'm really happy about that. That's a really good thing that I set up in my life. Great game changer, really increased my quality of life, and now I don't feel guilty all the time. Setting boundaries and expectations make me enjoy what I do even more. When I come in at work, I'm all in. I love it, but when I'm out, I'm out. I just let them know and that's it. If they're any emergencies, they know how to contact me, but usually they do very well without me. That's what I learned. It's possible to not die at work when you do business, and a work-life business is possible on your own terms. I've found my way to do it and I'm super happy. Setting boundaries and expectations around myself helped me lower and pretty much remove the guilt trap syndrome. I learned to love my boundaries. I love them now. I really go by the book with my calendar. I really respect my calendar and those blocks and those times I set for things, they're there to protect me and live my life to the fullest.
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